By Ray Hamill — The Eureka girls continued their charge toward a second straight league title in soccer on Wednesday, with a comprehensive 8-0 win at St. Bernard’s.
The dynamic duo of Olivia Stone and Klayre Barres accounted for seven of the goals between them, as the visitors took control of the clash with four goals in a seven-minute spell at the end of the first half to open up a 5-0 lead at the interval.
After that, there was no coming back for the Crusaders, who were out-matched in midfield and had to withstand wave after wave of attack.
And it could have been worse but for several spectacular saves by St. Bernard’s goalie Maddie Costa, including one from a penalty kick midway through the second half.
“I liked their combinations,” Eureka head coach Andy Salatnay said of his team’s performance. “And the one touches, and the give-and-goes, and cutting up the defensive lines.”
In truth, there was little not to like about the Loggers’ performance, as they improved to 9-0 in league play and appear to be getting stronger.
The magnificent seven minutes
Despite plenty of early possession, the Loggers didn’t get their breakthrough until midway through the first half, when Stone pounced on a poor clearance at the edge of the penalty area and made no mistake slotting past the keeper for a 1-0 lead.
The senior co-captain was in dazzling form once again, and displayed a skillful finishing touch with two more well-taken goals before halftime.
It’s not just the chances Stone creates that have been impressive this season, but equally the way she has been finishing her opportunities.
Her second goal of the afternoon came with seven minutes remaining in the opening half, and kick-started a dominating spell to end the period.
Stone ran on to a long through ball from the back, and held off the challenge of St. Bernard’s defender Jasa Sisemore to score with another composed finish.
Stone turned provider less than two minutes later to set up Barres, who displayed an equally lethal finishing touch with her first goal of the day.
Just 52 seconds later, Barres netted her second with another well-placed shot low and into the corner after outpacing the defense to set up the scoring opportunity.
Moments later, Stone sent a shot just inches over the bar after a wonderful run down the wing and cross from teammate Brynn Hales.
Keeping up the pressure, Barres then almost made it three goals within five minutes only to be denied on a great save by Costa on a close range shot.
Stone completed her hat trick on the brink of halftime, slotting home untouched at the far post on a wonderfully placed corner kick from fellow senior co-captain Athena Miller.
Miller influential again
Miller was just as influential in the win, consistently winning possession in midfield to kick-start numerous attacks.
She added a second assist on another corner kick in the second half, this time on Stone’s fourth goal of the day, as well as scoring the final goal of the game with 10 minutes remaining, netting from close range on a rebound after yet another spectacular save from Costa.
Grace Plessinger and Aquena Tolfeson each added an assist in the win.
In addition to the busy Costa, Sisemore had another strong showing for St. Bernard’s, as she has been doing all season, before moving forward late in the game to try and get something going in attack.
Marayah Tomlinson and Shelby Jordan each also impressed while trying to defend the constant barrage.
“They’re one of the few teams that can rattle our possession game,” Salatnay said of the Crusaders, who dropped to 4-4-1 in league.
The Loggers, who will get a forfeit win over South Fork this weekend, hold a two-and-a-half game lead in the standings, and can now clinch the title with two wins in their final four games.
They have outscored the rest of the Humboldt-Del Norte League 61-2
“For us, it’s just about maintaining our consistent discipline with our style of play,” the head coach said. “And take every practice serious and make sure we perform at the level we can.”